Recently on the Conflict Coaching Guild on LinkedIn I asked members if they would share idioms, phrases, metaphors and other expressions on conflict that they like. There are many I had not heard of and one of those is the title of today’s blog – never cut what you can untie.
This expression was apparently coined by Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) who was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously. Apparently, “Joubert published nothing during his lifetime, but he wrote a copious amount of letters and filled sheets of paper and small notebooks with thoughts about the nature of human existence, literature, and other topics, in a poignant, often aphoristic style. After his death his widow entrusted Chateaubriand with these notes, and in 1838, he published a selection entitled, Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert).”
So, what does this phrase – never cut what you can untie – mean? In a series of answers that ask that question online answers range from comparing the expression to “don’t burn your bridges” or “don’t kill a fly with an atom bomb”. One explanation was “if you untie something you can tie it again, but not if it’s cut”.
When I thought about it, I considered all explanations above to be applicable to conflict. I am going to focus on the last one because that visual was strongest for me. I compared the “tie” to the lace of a shoe – representing the tie between another person and myself. If we then engage in accusations and blame we risk severing the tie, the shoe does not fit well then and we become uncomfortable. We may trip over the broken lace. On the other hand, if we untie what is happening between us – by listening and sharing and trying to understand one another – our tie has a better chance of staying intact – keeping the lace strong and our footing solid.
If this analogy resonates for you, here are some ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) to help you reflect on a tie between you and another person that is being challenged due to a conflict.
What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?
Originally posted on www.cinergycoaching.com/blog/